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Teachers are warning of a rise in poor and problematic pupil behaviour in schools across Wales following the pandemic, which is leaving teachers exposed to increased abuse from children and young people.

Members of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union will this weekend argue that all schools and colleges must ensure they have in place robust and consistently applied behaviour management policies which protect teachers from verbal and physical abuse and harassment from pupils.

Members at the Union’s Cymru Annual Conference, which is being held in Llandudno today (Saturday) and Sunday, are reporting a rise in poor pupil attendance and attitude to learning, a failure to follow instructions or demonstrate respect for teachers and other school staff following pupils’ return to the classroom after the disruption of the pandemic.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“The disruption to normal routines caused by the pandemic appears to have led to deterioration in the behaviour of some pupils, with members reporting more incidents of pupils being abusive and disrespectful to teachers and other staff.

“Rather than redoubling their efforts to promote positive behaviour, the response of some schools and colleges appears to have been to absolve themselves of any responsibility, leaving teachers without the back up and support which is needed to address abuse.

“Where employers do not fulfil their duty of care to our members we will have no hesitation in taking steps, including taking refusal to teach ballots, in order to protect their health and welfare from abuse and violence.”

Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official Wales, said:

“There is a general sense among members that rudeness, verbal abuse and disruptive behaviour from pupils have increased since the pandemic.

“Evidence shows that positive pupil behaviour stems from a whole school approach where managements lead and support staff in maintaining good discipline.

“No teacher should go to work with the expectation that they will be either verbally or physically abused. All teachers are entitled to dignity at work and a safe working environment.

“Teachers are being disempowered by the failure of employers to ensure that behaviour policies are supporting teachers in maintaining high standards of discipline.”

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